“It is only a matter of time before our Devon site produces it’s first professional”
Ex-Gull Chris Todd returns, this time to discuss his work at the Pro:Direct Academy
Chris Todd – @ChrisToddBook
Pre-season is complete and the season is in full flow, games coming thick and fast with many points up for grabs. This is where it gets the fans excited and nervous about what lies ahead for the remainder of the season. What my advice would be to you fans is don’t read to much into the first 5 matches, after that then I believe you can start to see your teams progress and allowing them to settling into their respected leagues.
In pre-season you look to breed confidence into your squad, working on fitness and team philosophy. It also gives you a chance to experiment and nurture young talent.
On that note, I would like to tell you about my ever-growing academy at South Devon College called Pro:Direct Academy Devon. I am proud to say I currently head up the Academy, at present we currently have over 50 plus students studying and training at our brand new sports hub centre situated in Paignton. The centre has a state of the art 3G sports surface along with changing rooms and hub teaching/analysis space.
The students get to experience a professional environment, alongside studying their academics taught by specialist tutors and coaches alike. This program really is high quality for so many reasons. This is more than just football and education, it’s a life skill that they will never forget hopefully guiding them in the right direction for what’s in front of them.
The likelihood of them ever becoming a professional footballer is very slim, but this is one of the best places to be outside a professional club, giving students many opportunities to live their dreams. Pro:Direct Academy has become a well-known academy nationally with over fifteen sites across the country. These sites are starting to develop players on a regular basis, players are being spotted throughout their centres and at our national Pro:Direct Select team get-togethers. This squad is selected from all of the sites nationwide, they then play against professional academies throughout the year.
In recent months at least four players from fellow sites have gone on to sign for professional clubs like Stevenage, AFC Wimbledon, Forest Green Rovers and Derby County to name a few. It is only a matter of time before our Devon site produces it’s first professional.
As many of you Gull fans will know, this summer has seen many of our academy starlets getting first-team experience and opportunities at our partner club Torquay Utd. This is a partnership that has flourished in recent months, our academy players get to assist Gary and his team whenever they need extra players for training numbers. Seeing how they are treated and guided by Gary and Downsey is special, this is giving our players a real professional experience – allowing them to test their ability with and against professional players, while also trying to catch Gary’s eye.
Myself and the Pro Direct Devon staff are there to assist the players and give them as many opportunities as possible. The players train four times a week, that includes a recovery/analysis session and a game on a Wednesday where we play in a (ECFA) English college Football Association league. The students then play for Torquay Utd under-18s and other local men’s leagues in the area over the weekend.
The days of young players having to be on a YTS or an apprenticeship at a professional club in order to become a pro footballer are well and truly gone.